Are You An Inspired Leader?

“It’s better to hang out with people better than you.  Pick out associates whose behaviour is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction, says Warren Buffett.”

Emulate the behaviour of someone whom you have identified as an extraordinary leader.  This is the best way for you, as an entrepreneur, to learn and acquire outstanding leadership skills. 

Prior to launching my business I was lucky enough to work for 5 years for a company whose MD I regarded as an inspired leader.  I’d like to share with you some of the qualities he displayed and management practices he implemented, in leading his team to achieve superior results in attaining a 5 year target in only 4 years

Create a vision

Inspired leadership begins with envisaging a goal and developing a road map to attain it.  Paul (my former MD) had a big dream of growing a R20 million company into a R100 million turnover business within 5 years.  He shared this goal with his staff and a 5 year plan as to how it would be achieved.

Progress was constantly measured via quarterly management team reviews of performance against budget and where required, adjustments made to the planned tactics.

It literally was a “living” plan with each manager receiving an office wall clock with the annual turnover targets on the clock face.  This acted as a constant reminder of our goal.

Celebrate and incentivise

Keep your staff regularly informed of the progress that is being made towards the achievement of a target.  You can use this communication as a motivational opportunity.

If possible, incentivise your team to achieve the goal.  If everyone has “skin in the game”, they will be inspired to make it happen.

My former MD ensured that we were aware of our progress on a quarterly basis and that every year, when we achieved the annual target, we each received an incentive pay out.  This was accompanied by a signed letter of thank you from Paul.

Work on the business and not in the business

Inspired leaders need time to think and envisage the future path for their company.  They surround themselves with excellent managers who are capable of implementing what is required, which in turn frees the leader to work on the business.

Paul had a strong management team and spent much of his time sitting at his desk and thinking.  This allowed him to explore new avenues and be a constant source of innovative ideas for the company.

Understand all the areas in your business

A good leader knows how all aspects of his or her business operate and as a result, is able to contribute meaningfully to resolve challenges when they arise.

Paul kept a factory coat and cap on a hook behind his office door.  Every day he donned these and spent time in the factory, watching the production lines run and chatting to both managers and staff.  In like fashion, he accompanied the sales team to trade visits and ensured he also kept his finger on the pulse in terms of the finance, marketing and HR departments.

An added bonus in doing this, was that he developed a close relationship with the staff, who viewed him as an interested and involved leader.

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